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Employment in US Before COVID and in April –  72 percent of adults were either “doing okay” financially, down from the 75 percent says FED

Although most adults were working as much as they wanted to, many people were not working full time and wanted more work. Many adults also performed gig activities in the month before the survey, although few who participated in the gig economy were doing so as a primary source of income.
• Eighteen percent of adults—including 25 percent of black and Hispanic adults—were not working full time and wanted more work in late 2019.
• Among women ages 25 to 54 who were not working, 46 percent said that childcare or other family obligations contributed to their employment decision. Among similarly aged men who were not working, a smaller 23 percent cited childcare or other family obligations.
• Three in 10 adults engaged in at least one gig activity, or informal work, in the month before the survey, although many of those people spent a relatively small amount of time doing so. One in 10 adults spent 20 hours or more per month on gigs.
• Technology did not drive most of the gig work captured in the survey. Thirteen percent of all people who engaged in gig activities used an app or online platform to find customers and receive payments. The rest found customers or received payments some other way.

Overall Economic Well-Being in April 2020

Although financial circumstances were generally positive for most adults at the end of 2019, financial conditions changed dramatically for many families beginning in March 2020 as the spread of COVID-19 intensified in the United States. For instance, according to the Department of Labor, record numbers of people filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in the final weeks of March and the beginning of April.

Recognizing this changing finanial landscape, the Federal Reserve Board fielded a supplemental survey (“April supplement”) over the first weekend of April 2020 to obtain an updated picture of families’ financial situations.

Consistent with the employment declines seen in other data, results from the April supplement point to the substantial job losses that were occurring. Thirteen percent of adults reported that they lost a job or were furloughed between March 1, 2020, and the time at which they completed the survey during the first weekend in April. However, as discussed further in the “Financial Repercussions from COVID-19” section of this report, most of those who lost a job expected in early April that the layoff would be temporary and that they would return to the same employer. An additional 6 percent of adults reported that they had their hours reduced or took unpaid leave.

Similarly, fewer adults reported that they were at least doing okay financially in April 2020 than had been the case six months earlier. In the April supplement, 72 percent of adults were either “doing okay” financially (43 percent) or “living comfortably” (29 percent). This is down from the 75 percent of adults who were at least doing okay financially in the fall of 2019 and the 36 percent who were living comfortably.

These declines in self-reported financial well-being were concentrated among those who lost a job or had their hours cut (figure A). Among those adults not experiencing a job loss or reduction in hours, 76 percent were doing at least okay financially in April, which is similar to the overall share of adults who reported doing at least okay financially in the fall. Among those who experienced a job loss or hours reduction, 51 percent indicated that they were doing at least okay financially in April, whereas 48 percent were either struggling to get by or just getting by.

Recognizing that the April supplement was fielded relatively soon after families began to experience the financial repercussions of COVID-19, these results may not reflect the full extent of financial hardship that will result from the pandemic. Nevertheless, they provide an initial indication of how families were faring relative to the fall of 2019 as the economic envi- ronment changed around the country.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2019 – FED


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